Literarcy, Learning, and a Just Society: Three Views from the Enlightenment

By:
Dr. Jeanne Schuler
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Professors Richard White, Patrick Murray, and Jeanne Schuler of the Department of Philosophy of Creighton University will address the topic, “Learning, Literacy, and a Just Society: Three Views from the Enlightenment.” Dr. Schuler will present this joint project. In our view, these Enlightenment views of education represent a powerful defense of the culture of learning.

In the Republic, Plato insists that the proper system of education is a condition for the existence and defense of a just society. After Plato, the topic of educating virtuous citizens moves to the margins of philosophy. Mainstream philosophy focuses on reason and freedom as timeless states, but says little about becoming rational or free. Through what process do people develop into rational and free beings?

In the Enlightenment, John Locke, Jean-Jacques Rousseau, and Immanuel Kant address the topic. Each wrote essays on the purpose of education and how society advances through the formation of virtuous citizens. These Enlightenment authors share with Plato the belief the education spells emancipation. Unlike Plato, the important source of education for the Enlightenment thinkers is experience. Literacy is not in opposition to the realm of experience, but arises from it. Locke went so far as to call experience “natural revelation,” as opposed to the special revelation of scripture. For these thinkers, virtue is not stamped on the compliant soul but is cultivated through the student’s labor, failures, and formation of feelings. This paper will draw from these three philosophers in answering the question: how does proper education promote a just society?


Keywords: Literacy, Education, Just Society, Enlightenment, Kant, Rousseau, Locke
Stream: Literacy
Presentation Type: Paper Presentation in English
Paper: A paper has not yet been submitted.


Dr. Jeanne Schuler

Associate Professor of Philosophy, Department of Philosophy
College of Arts and Sciences
Creighton University, American Philosophical Association

Omaha, Nebraska, USA

Jeanne Schuler is an associate professor of philosophy at Creighton University. She has published in the history of philosophy and critical theory, including articles on Hume, Kant, Hegel, Marx, and Arendt. She has just finished a comparison of Hume and Hegel on the critique of pure immediacy in sensing. With Patrick Murray, she recently published “Marx, Subjectivism, and Modern Moral Philosophy” and contributed essays to collections on the films of Stanley Kubrick and neo-noir. She is working on False Moves in Philosophy, a study of the dogmas of philosophy and the ways in which dualisms breed skepticism. For the last ten years, she has participated in the annual European Studies Conference with her colleagues in philosophy, Richard White and Patrick Murray.

Ref: B07P0161